Armor Ability tips: how to finish every fight

They say Call of Duty’s rough on the new guy, but Call of Duty ain’t got nothing on the glistening alloy of real-world, far-future technology and evil-mindedness that is 343’s Halo 4. Halo 4! Where men brandishing platters of compacted photon advance on terrified rookies while other men circle to the rear, hiding their ill will beneath shrouds of shimmering semi-visibility.

Hardlight Shield
It’s a spangly sci-fi version of Modern Warfare’s Riot Shield, basically, but there are a few crucial differences. Most obviously, it’s not indestructible and can only be activated for eight seconds at a time. The shield is quick to deploy, and is thus a useful way to ward off a grenade at close range, but the fact that it only covers the front half of your body makes it a poor choice when you’re right in the enemy’s midst. You can’t fire while wielding the shield, either. All in all, anybody looking to batten down the hatches and out-last the opposition should probably think twice.

On reasonably open ground, the Hardlight Shield pays into some straightforward but extremely effective team strategies. Simply have one player advance with the shield up, drawing the enemy’s fire, while the others shoot past him. Make sure you leave the advancing player somewhere to retreat to, mind. It’s also worth remembering that the Hardlight Shield pops you out into third person - a useful side-effect when you’re leading the team, and want to keep as much of the battlefield in view as possible.

Promethean Vision
This is the Armor Ability that’s going to annoy those caught out by it the most, I suspect. Hold the button to spark a radar wave which flags up enemies as red silhouettes, even those tucked behind walls or using Active Camo. At proximity, you should be able to make out which way the enemy is facing and what they’re armed with, too. This is advantageous when coordinating manoeuvres - one player could hang back in a side chamber, spotting tangos for the others - but the most immediate benefit is that you’ll be able to get the drop on people at corners, lining up a headshot before they’re even in view.

There are downsides to Promethean Vision, however. The ability doesn’t distinguish between holograms and real players, drowns out environmental detail in a potentially disorienting fashion, and emits a loud noise which may alert nearby foes to your activities. Also, the radar wave takes a crucial fraction of a second to hit maximum range and anything it hasn’t touched will be hard to distinguish from the backdrop.

Thruster Pack
Thruster Packs are designed for the players with deftest footwork. They boost you a few feet back, sideways or forward, simultaneously popping the view out into third person so you’re able to reorient yourself more easily. This trick is best thought of as a way of building on manoeuvres, rather than opening up whole new tactical possibilities a la Halo Reach’s jetpack. Use it to confuse a sniper, or gain the shelter of a doorway a fraction of a second quicker, or close the distance to a backpedalling enemy.

Another nod to the Call of Duty series, Autosentries rain death across a 180 degree arc till they or their owners are destroyed. Use them to tie down chokepoints or expose enemy movements at long range. When defending a base alongside another player armed with an Autosentry, try deploying yours next to him and vice versa - foes will assume the player nearest the sentry is the owner and target him first in hopes of taking both threats out simultaneously.

One big weakness of the Autosentry is that it’s an absolute sucker for holograms. Once you know this Armor Ability is in play, by all means send a puppet-version of yourself galloping under its nose. The little guy won’t be able to resist.

Regeneration Field
It sounds like a sci-fi medipack, but the Regeneration Field is actually an oddball marriage of elements from Halo 3’s Regenerator and Reach’s vehicle-stopping Armor Lock. Like the former, it’ll heal all players in the vicinity (including enemies). A good choice when everybody’s holed up around a dropped flag, though don’t depend on it - the Field won’t protect you from additional damage and doesn’t refill your health instantaneously.

As with Armor Lock, the Field emits a short range kinetic blast, shoving nearby foes out of the way; unlike Armor Lock, the blast is triggered on activation rather than deactivation, making this more of a fire-and-forget tool when used offensively. Throw it down in the face of a charging Sword-wielder to open a life-saving window of opportunity for your snipers.